Burundi expels Rwandan national on suspicion of espionage

Tuesday May 12 2015

Demonstrators protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in Bujumbura on May 11, 2015. A Rwandan national has been deported on allegations of spying. PHOTO | LANDRY NSHIMIYE |

A Rwandan national employed as the manager of local telecommunication operator Econet in Burundi has been deported after the country's security services accused him of spying on behalf of 'foreign intelligence' accused of being behind the street demonstrations in the capital city Bujumbura.

One of the popular vernacular newspapers published in Kigali, '', quoted a senior Rwandan diplomat in Bujumbura as saying that Rwandan national Antoine Masozera, who was hired Econet in 2012, had worked for the company until last weekend when he was deported on the basis of alleged espionage.

It is said that Mr Masozera had been given 48 hours to leave the country, though there was no retaliatory action from the Rwandan side.

His expulsion comes just two days after Rwandan President Paul Kagame also criticised his Burundian counterpart Pierre Nkurunziza's desire to cling to power.

Speaking during an interview with the media while on trip in Switzerland, the Rwandan leader observed that when "your own citizens tell you 'we do not want you to do that or to lead us', maybe they are saying you haven't done enough for them".

READ: Burundi court upholds Nkurunziza's candidacy as Rwanda breaks silence


Burundi's Constitutional Court has dismissed objections over Nkurunziza's re-election bid, saying his first presidential term did not count as he was elected by parliament and not directly by the people.

Speaking during an interview with the state-run Radio Rwanda on Sunday, Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo has also expressed serious concern' over the deteriorating political situation in Burundi.

"Despite assurances given by Burundi, we can not provide any help but there are still fears about the possibility that the Rwandan rebels based in eastern DR Congo can enjoy the violence in Burundi and destabilise Rwanda," she said.

Burundi goes to the polls on 28 May for parliamentary elections and then on 28 June for presidential election despite ongoing tension in the country.

Local observers say the tension has been exacerbated by President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term, in violation of the Arusha peace and reconciliation deal that brought the country's civil war to an end.

According to the Rwandan government, around 25,000 asylum seekers from Burundi arrived in the country over the last two months. Burundians have been demonstrating against his name appearing on the ballot for a third time.